The American government's folly of shutting down enemy chat sites such as karadzic.org

Imagine that you are a police detective. By blind luck one day, a bank robber in your town accidentally includes your e-mail address on the listserve to his fellow conspirators in the robbery. As the days go by, you receive more e-mails detailing the plans and timing of the upcoming heist.

When you almost have enough information about the conspiracy and identity of the parties involved to make arrests, you consult with a computer expert. He tells you that you have two options: 1) do nothing and continue to monitor the developing dialogue among the conspirators, or 2) he can use an advanced program to disable the listserve so that the conspirators can no longer use it to talk.

The answer would be pretty clear to most people: of course we would continue to monitor the developing conversation until we had enough information to make arrests. Shutting down the listserve may temporarily block the present channel of communication of the conspiracy, but the bad guys would ultimately find another way to communicate. And once they switched to other means of communication, you as detective would once again be in the dark about their developing plans.

But the American government would answer this question differently. Since it began making an active effort to recruit hackers to target enemy websites and chatrooms over five years ago, it has actively sought to erase these websites rather than use them to gather intelligence.

Such is the case with karadzic.org. Once the central stopping point for sympathizers wishing to leave messages of support and encouragement - and occasionally actionable information about his appearances at different events and homes - the site is now non-existent thanks to American government efforts to shut it down. Karadzic supporters still chat, but the chat is now spread out across hundreds of more obscure sites that make monitoring more difficult.

Karadzic.org is not the only instance of this blunder. The inefficient tactics of destroying mainstream enemy websites has also been used against various insurgent groups in Iraq. The International Crisis Group released an excellent and well-researched study of the strategic blunder of destroying these websites rather than reading them. That report can be read here.

Momcilo Mandic facing trial in Sarajevo

From July 17th, but worth noting because of Mandic's proximity to Karadzic.

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia's war crimes chamber on Monday charged former Bosnian Serb minister Momcilo Mandic with war crimes committed during the country's 1992-95 war.

Mandic served as deputy interior minister and justice minister in the government of then Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, now a war crimes fugitive. Mandic is already on trial for abuse of office, organised crime and aiding his former boss.

The indictment said he led an attack by Bosnian Serb police forces and military and paramilitary units on the interior ministry's training centre in Sarajevo in April 1992.

"The indictment further alleges that the accused, having the duties of justice minister ... was exclusively responsible for the functioning of the correctional facilities in the Serb Republic between May and December 1992," the court said in a statement.

The prisons, two near the Bosnian capital and one in the eastern town of Foca, were allegedly run as detention camps where many non-Serbs were illegally imprisoned, it added.

Earlier this year, Mandic and three other top Bosnian Serb officials were charged with corruption that led to the bankruptcy of the Privredna Banka bank in the Serb part of Sarajevo, after depositors' funds were transferred to political party accounts.

Some funds are believed to have gone to finance the support network of Karadzic, who is indicted by the United Nations war crimes court for genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo.

Mandic left Bosnia towards the end of the war and moved to Belgrade where he became a wealthy businessman. He was arrested last August in Montenegro and transferred to Bosnia.


Karadzic aider and abettor Lieutenant Pierre Perrier (France) exposed

A military person whose reliability I don't question has sent me some useful information on the French role in Pale.

A French military intelligence officer named Lieutenant (now Captain) Pierre Perrier regularly informed Liljana Karadzic of pending anti-Karadzic operations and plans by NATO and EUFOR between 2002 and 2004. He reached her by cell phone and in person during French patrols in Pale during his Bosnia assignments.

What is unusual is that Lieutenant Perrier also met regularly with senior American intelligence officials in Sarajevo during this time.

If anyone knows more about Lieutenant Perrier, please send it my way.